How do you live your life with soul?

The students of the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls had several opportunities to ponder the purpose and meaning of life as the school presented the Disney-Pixar movie Soul to each grade over the weeks of February 15 and 22. The animated feature portrays a middle school band leader whose life hasn’t turned out the way he expected. When he accidentally gets stuck in the afterlife, he comes to regret the existence he mostly took for granted.

Using the film as a starting point, students and teachers explored the themes of the movie during SKA’s Advisory periods, delving into individual goals and dreams. Advisory, started last year by the school’s Guidance Department, gives students the chance to speak about issues with their teachers outside a regular classroom setting and was an exceptional venue for these topics.

To further the discussion, Social Worker Moshe Cohen spoke to each grade about how to connect positively and meaningfully with others, focusing on the hazards of social media. Constantly using our cell phones distances us from each other, he noted, while social media creates a distorted picture of other people’s lives, leading to jealously and negativity. Doing selfless acts of kindness can lead to a spiritual life and give one a purpose and connection, he stressed. Mr. Cohen’s sessions made such an impact on the SKA students that more than one grade took it upon themselves to declare their lunch period a “cell-phone-free zone” and were astounded at the difference this made to their socializing.

SKA parents were invited to a Zoom discussion on Tuesday evening, March 2, to hear from Mr. Cohen about “Helping Our Children Develop a Healthy Relationship with Social Media.” Including our parents in the process is important to helping our students overcome the challenges of social media overuse and look for closer connections with their peers and families.

An SKA Ninth Grader observed that “we didn’t realize how many hours we spend on our phones and how we could be using that time for so many other things.” In the coming weeks, SKA’s Student Council will be spearheading initiatives to motivate students to limit cell-phone use during the day to foster more meaningful connections.

The conversation continues.